VIDEO: Doncaster’s role in winning World War One revealed

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Never-before displayed pictures depicting Doncaster’s role in fighting World War One have surfaced.

The photographs, which are nearly 100 years old, are being put on show at the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, at Lakeside, as part of a new display looking at the war, and launched to mark the 100th anniversary of its outbreak.

John Kessen at the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, Doncaster, with pictures taken by his father, Lt Adam Kessen, at the Doncaster Royal Flying Corp base, where he served in 1918 during World War One

John Kessen at the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, Doncaster, with pictures taken by his father, Lt Adam Kessen, at the Doncaster Royal Flying Corp base, where he served in 1918 during World War One

Copies of the pictures have been sent to the museum by relatives of service personnel who served with the Royal Flying Corps pilot training base in Doncaster.

The pictures were taken by three officers – Lt William Grayson from Sheffield, Lt Adam Kessen and Lt HR Hawkins during their time serving there.

Lt Grayson was an instructor at the base, while Lt Hawkins went on from training in Doncaster to fly bombing missions on the Western Front.

Lt Kessen was training at the base in 1918 when the war finished.

Crashed WW1 aircraft at the Doncaster Royal Flying Corp based near Doncaster Racecourse.

Crashed WW1 aircraft at the Doncaster Royal Flying Corp based near Doncaster Racecourse.

His son John, aged 77, who now lives in South Yorkshire, visited the museum to see the exhibition for the first time.

The pictures depict life at the Royal Flying Corps base, which was located on what was then fields, next to Leger Way and Town Moor Avenue. They also show airmen at the racecourse, where they were billeted.

They show officers relaxing away from flying. They also include pictures of planes which crashed in and around the base, and depict a military funeral, thought to have been for one of the many airman killed in training.

Mr Kessen said: “Dad was in the trenches in the 1914 to 1918 war.

“He had not a good time. He remembered jumping into what he said was a trench full of a lot of stiffs.

“He found he could have a weekend in London if he applied to join the Royal Flying Corps, so he thought, ‘Right let’s go’.

“He went down to London and, to his astonishment, he was accepted. Then he did his officer training down south and then went up to Doncaster to do his flying training.”

The war ended before he had completed his training and got his wings.

Mr Kessen said it was brilliant to see his father’s pictures on display at the museum.

“He would have been so delighted.

“To me, it shows what went on.”

Museum chairman Ian Kingsnorth said: “We’ve got together the memorabilia of three local South Yorkshire men – Lt Grayson from Sheffield, Capt Hawkins who came in 1916 and was an instructor on the airfield opposite the racecourse, and there is also Lt Kessen’s collection of photographs.”

The exhibition is now a permanent display at the museum.